I have a pin that a thoughtful colleague gave to me on my birthday this year. It’s a small pin with a very simple message: Girls Support Girls. It’s not particularly profound or witty or even novel, and yet it seems to strike a chord, especially with other women. They see me wearing the pin, and it makes them smile: “Yes! Girls should support girls!”
As the president of a girls’ school, I feel affirmed by this response. Yes, girls need communities that support them, empower them, celebrate them and help them build positive relationships with one another. What better way to create an environment where girls support girls than in an all-girls school? And yet, there is a part of me that feels a little sad. How, in 2018, have we as a society not yet internalized the message of girls supporting girls?
This question is especially on my mind as WSG prepares to celebrate the International Day of the Girl tomorrow. The mission of the Day of the Girl is to “help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” Too often girls are devalued, stereotyped, discouraged from pursuing things that inspire and interest them. They may be intimidated in school, underachieving and disconnected from their own learning. They may have too many responsibilities or no encouragement at home. They may be judged on their appearance and demeaned for not fitting into perceived norms. In short, girls deserve more.
Girls need to be supported appropriately in their development as they grow and mature. In school, they should experience success, feel validated and encouraged as students. They should know their appearance does not define them as a person, and they are beautiful just as God created them. Girls should be given leadership opportunities and should be encouraged to use their voice to question the status quo, to speak their opinions and to define themselves. Most of all, girls should be empowered to support and encourage each other as they work toward both individual and shared goals.
I feel strongly that WSG is and should be the place where girls support girls, unconditionally and whole-heartedly. We want our girls to feel smart, talented and courageous each and every day.